Pitching

YOU'RE GONNA LOVE THIS...

That's pretty much how every pitch for a pitch begins.  You're gonna love this idea for a film... or a television show.  You're gonna loves this!  I wonder how many times an executive hears that, and thinks, I'm probably going to hate this.  I'm friends with enough of them to know the answer is: a lot.

That's why you have to be good--because so many people are bad.

Despite having a somewhat engaging personality, I'm terrible at pitching.  Just horrible. As a result, I hate it. I'd always rather write it out and hand someone a script that has it on the page.  But, sometimes, you just have to pitch.  And, you have to find a way to do it well.

A scenario.  You're in a general meeting, an exec has read one of your scripts, and says... almost always... what are some of the other ideas you're working on?  Well, you can say, "nothing."  But, then the meeting's over.  What the exec is doing is fishing.  Maybe out of curiosity, boredom, sincerity, who knows.  But, they are fishing.  Do you want to give them a guppie, or a 'holy mackeral?'

My personal rule in pitching is having a concise logline.  A twenty-five word or less sentence that completely sums up the premise for your idea.  "Oh, I'm working on this idea about a cop who's trying to solve a murder, but his only eyewitness is blind..."  (blecht)  Whatever it is.  Like that, only good.  If they ask for more, and I have more, I usually pitch them the first act of the script/outline, then fill in the blanks with the rest of the plot points, if they're still curious.

They usually aren't.

What are the chances of selling a pitch in this situation?  I've never sold a pitch this way, but I know people who have walked into general meetings and left with a deal for a film. The way I feel is, if I'm not prepared, I have zero chance.

I also find that when I go in to exclusively pitch an idea, using note cards, or a script (for the pitch) helps me.  Being able to write out the pitch is just helpful.  I know if the words on the cards form a compelling pitch, my verbal rendition can't be too bad.  I have also written out the pitch, in script form, with me as the character, saying the dialogue.  Sounds kind of weird, but it works.  The whole thing is kind of like stand up comedy, or a dramatic monologue, and most artists work from a script.  Some guys sit still, some fly all over the room, some guys use props--don't feel like you need to limit your presentation.  I would consider limiting the time, though.  2 minutes is ideal, and no more than 5.  Your pitch meeting might last an hour, but only 2-3 minutes of it should be your initial salvo. The remainder of the time will hopefully be filled with excitement, and how your idea for a film is flushed out.

NEVER go into a pitch meeting unprepared.  Executives will be pissed, then tell all of their other exec friends (they run in packs, drink together, and tell war stories like anyone else) that you wasted their time.  I've seen writers literally get shut out after a few lousy pitches.  I've also seen writers go out with tons of pitches that they've never sold, but they always get the meetings because they're so good at it.

Even if an executive doesn't like your pitch, they will greatly appreciate your preparedness. 

--Angry One--